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Intermediate championship previews


NOTHING BETWEEN THEM  Parke's Chris Donohoe holds off Ballinrobe's James Murphy during last Sunday's Mayo Intermediate club championship clash at Flanagan Park. Pic: Conor McKeown


Crossmolina v Bonniconlon

Sunday, September 11
Crossmolina at 12pm
Referee: M Daly

THESE lads will be home in time for the dinner on Sunday afternoon after their high-noon clash.
The very unusual start-time for this northern battle means that they’ll have their business done before the day really begins. However, it remains to be seen which group of young men will sit down to the spuds in better form.
Bonniconlon know victory will take them into the last eight, while Crossmolina need to win in order to stay in the running for silverware.
Johnny Griffin’s Bonni’ are well-positioned after battling past Lahardane last weekend and will arrive in St Tiernan’s Park full of confidence. However, that will make absolutely no difference to the home boys.
Crossmolina are football royalty and always expect to win whether that’s feasible or not.
They left Louisburgh last weekend with nothing to show for their efforts and will have to be much better to have any chance of beating a Bonniconlon team who are accustomed to winning this season.
Fionan Duffy is still recovering from injury and came off the bench against Louisburgh in the opening round.
If he’s fit to play for an extended period against Bonniconlon, and assuming Jordan Flynn returns from suspension, then they may prove to be
the difference in a game that Brian Benson’s team have to win.

VERDICT: Crossmolina

Group 1
Lahardane MacHales v Louisburgh

Sunday, September 11
Bofeenaun at 4pm
Referee: R Gurren

LAHARDANE were within a kick of a ball of victory until the dying moments last weekend.
That surprised a lot of people. If the Nephin men had found a few more scores from open play they might have turned over Bonniconlon on the road.
Of course, the men in black and amber expected to win that one and they’ll expect to win next Sunday too.
That’s the way they’re constructed by Lough Conn – they never doubt themselves. They’ll need all that self-confidence on Sunday when Louisburgh come to town.
Ronan O’Grady’s team are bubbling. A hard-earned win over Crossmolina in the opening round means another victory will send them into the last eight and that’s what they’ll be looking to do.
Dylan Prendergast is one of the best forwards in the competition and he’ll be looking to impress again in Bofeenaun. Padraig Prendergast will kick points from everywhere and Shane Nallen will bring experience, style and a little bit of mystery to the whole thing.
Adrian Leonard, Shane Finnerty, Paul Coleman and their colleagues will look to send the Clew Bay men home with nothing to show for their trip north.
That will be easier said than done.

VERDICT: Louisburgh

Burrishoole v Ballinrobe

Saturday, September 10
Newport at 5pm
Referee: S Tolan

IS that opportunity I can hear knocking loudly in the background? A win for either team on Saturday evening will send them into the knock-out stages with a game to spare. It could have been so different.
In the opening round, Burrishoole went to Bangor and turned over the home side impressively while Ballinrobe emerged victorious from an epic with Parke. Now, both teams will be quietly contemplating an interesting autumn where football might push cost-of-living conversations into the background.
The Clew Bay men will fancy their chances of victory on their beloved McGovern Park sod. Brian McLoughlin will look towards Jason Doherty, David Nevin and Fintan McManamon to provide the launch pad for victory but they’ll be taking nothing for granted.
Burris’ know the quality Ballinrobe possess.
Peter Ford’s men will have taken huge confidence from the Parke win. The never-say-die attitude obvious in that battle will serve them well in Newport.
Liam Burke, Cian O’Connell, Evan Reaney, Ewan Duffy, James Murphy and the Flannerys fear nothing and will arrive by the bay with victory on their mind.
It could be one of the games of the weekend and the opportunity for advancement is a cherished prize. Home advantage may just swing it for McLoughlin’s maestros.

VERDICT: Burrishoole

Group 2
Parke v Kiltane

Sunday, September 11
Parke at 2pm
Referee: K Connelly

THE result of this ‘death match’ will tell us all we need to know about both teams.
Can Parke recover from last week’s heartbreak in Ballinrobe and deliver on their undoubted promise? Can Kiltane stop the championship rot and take a stand in intermediate ranks? Amazingly if the Erris men are beaten they’ll be slipping ever closer to junior football. That’s utterly unthinkable, given their decades in senior ranks.
There are so many questions to be answered in Sunday’s big test in Parke. Will the home forwards be better than they were last time out? They have to be.
Will Parke have the composure required when the championship minutes arrive? They have to.
Will Kiltane find the form that sustained them in senior football for so long? They have to. Will they have the spread of scorers needed to win against a hard-tackling back division? They have to.
The Erris men missed injured forward Mikie Sweeney terribly against Burrishoole in the opening round and must try to succeed without him on Sunday.
Ciaran O’Hara will have his men primed for this one and they’ll give it absolutely everything.
That fighting spirit will test Parke like never before. Are Mark Concannon’s men good enough, tough enough and calm enough to rise to that challenge.
We’ll learn the answer on Sunday afternoon.


Castlebar B v Ardnaree Sarsfields

Saturday, September 10
Castlebar at 5pm
Referee: S Corcoran
HOW did Mitchels not win their opening round match in Ballyhaunis? That question has echoed around the county town all week. Nine points up at half-time after an impressive opening, they only kicked a point after the resumption and had to leave Ballyhaunis with a share of the spoils.
Ardnaree were well beaten on home soil against Moy Davitts on opening day and another defeat will see them slip nearer the trapdoor to junior football.
The men in green and gold are talented, determined and proud but the formbook doesn’t read well for them. Defeat by Cill Chomain on home soil in a relegation play-off preceded the Moy Davitts reversal.
Therefore, a visit to a team smarting from last weekend’s road war is the last thing they need.
Mitchels aren’t just any old second team.
They’re a hugely competitive squad filled with impressive experience and burgeoning youth. Kevin Filan has developed an impressive collective ethos in the group and they’ll be very hard beaten on home soil on Sunday.
A win for Mitchels will leave their destiny in their own hands while a win for the Moysiders would throw everything back into the mix again. It’s hard to see anything other than a Mitchels victory in this one.

VERDICT: Castlebar B

Group 3
Moy Davitts v Ballyhaunis

Saturday, September 10
Foxford at 5pm
Referee: D Corcoran

THIS is an interesting one!
This is a gut-tester if there ever was one.
Have Moy Davitts the guile, the desire, the guts to win the game and secure a place in the quarter-final without any drama or meandering?
Have Ballyhaunis the drive to power back into championship reckoning or will they just fade away? There are a lot of questions to be answered by the big river on Saturday evening.
Last time out, Moy Davitts cruised past Ardnaree, but that was no surprise. Now, they need to back up that performance and assert themselves in the long race for silverware. Can they do it?
The Moy men are one of the great enigmas of Mayo sport – hugely talented, but one gets the impression that they never truly reach the levels they should.
Is this the year they’ll throw off the shackles and show everyone what they’re capable of?
Ballyhaunis were in real bother midway through their opening round with Castlebar B.
Trailing badly, upset with the world and eyeing defeat, they grabbed hold of themselves and powered back to draw level in the closing seconds.
Will that revival power them to victory next Saturday in Foxford or was the disappointing first half display a hint at something not right? Only the men on the pitch can answer those queries and the answers will be worth waiting for.

VERDICT: Moy Davitts

Hollymount Carramore v Kilmeena

Sunday, September 11
Hollymount at 2pm
Referee: V Neary

HOW good are Kilmeena?
If they go to ‘The Saucer’ on Sunday and win, they’re very good. If there ever was a venue capable of testing the lining of a team’s heart, it’s the bowl-like behemoth in South Mayo. That test is more acute given the utter requirement for victory scrawled on the walls of the home dressing-room.
If Tom and Ray Connelly’s men lose this one they can put the feet up for the rest of the year.
It’s win or bust for the Coen’s, Conor Keane and the  home boys – simple as that.
Hollymount-Carramore were many people’s favourites to win the whole thing before a ball was kicked. They may still leave Castlebar with the big bowl at the end of the season, but to stay in the race they have to battle past John Reilly’s rebellious outfit in this one.
Kilmeena are playing without a care in the world. They edged out Kilmaine in a thriller last weekend and the sense that they’re loving every second of the adventure is hard to avoid. Jack Carney, Darragh Keaveney, John McGlynn, John Ryan and their colleagues will love the thought of defying logic once again.
Who will win this one? Kilmeena can do it, but Hollymount Carramore have to do it. That may be the difference.

VERDICT: Hollymount Carramore

Group 4
Kilmaine v Kiltimagh

Sunday, September 11
Kilmaine at 4pm
K Barnicle

THEY might need to install a second floor in the Kilmaine Community Grounds for this one. The interest in this encounter is huge and a big crowd is expected.
All across Mayo they’re talking about the meeting between Kevin Murphy’s homeside and Damien Gallagher’s visitors.
Before the competition began both were seen as potential winners, but a Kiltimagh win here could end the home side’s interest in the championship and that would be a bitter pill for the border boys.
Kilmaine were well-positioned for long periods of the opening round in Kilmeena, but found scores hard to come by at critical times. They’ll need to be better in this department on Sunday against a Kiltimagh team playing with a sense of adventure and enjoyment.
The Kilti’ boys love being seen as the underdogs and they’re thriving right now. They went to Ballaghaderreen for a league play-off a few weeks ago and very few gave them a chance. Many people fancied Hollymount Carramore to beat them in the opening round of the championship.
On both occasions, Damien Gallagher’s men emerged victorious. They’ll be looking for a similar reaction and result on Sunday. They just might get it.

VERDICT: Kiltimagh

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